Armenia's last-minute decision to join a Russian-led customs union at the expense of much closer ties with the European Union has been widely attributed in the West to strong pressure and bullying by Russia.
The European Union is mulling ways to expand its textile trade with Uzbekistan, a major cotton supplier. Rights activists are lobbying hard against the ratification of EU trade measures, asserting that adoption would encourage the continuing use of forced child labor in the Central Asian nation.
BRUSSELS -- Top NATO and European Union officials met Uzbek President Islam Karimov in Brussels amid strong condemnation from nongovernmental organizations, who bemoan Tashkent’s woeful human rights record.
The Brussels visit is the first in years for the authoritarian leader and has dismayed rights groups, who say it marks his rehabilitation in the West.
President Islam Karimov will visit Brussels on January 24 to meet the President of the European Commission (EC), Jose Manuel Barroso, the Belgian authorities, and officials at NATO HQ, a spokesman for the EC has confirmed.
NATO, not the European Union, initiated the idea of inviting Uzbekistan’s controversial leader, Islam Karimov, to visit Brussels, according to an aide to European Commission President José Manuel Barroso. Karimov is scheduled to meet with NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, Barroso, EU Energy Commissioner Günther Oettinger, as well as Belgian authorities, on January 24.